Welcome to Bad Quarterback Performance Of The Week, a recurring feature in which we celebrate the worst quarterback play the NFL has to offer.
Out of necessity and a desire to avoid slipping back into the dreaded rebuild, Dan Snyder and his underwhelming Washington football team have kept their sweaty grip on Kirk Cousins for as long as possible. This organizational commitment to kicking the can has come at great expense; in February, the Skins placed the franchise tag on the QB for the second straight season, meaning Cousins would receive $23.9 million in one contract year.
Merely uttering Cousins’s name will elicit a passionate argument about whether he’s “actually good.” Is he only good within the context of his team, which has an extraordinary streak of ostracizing drafted talent and throwing absurd amounts of money at free agents, or is he a legitimate starter who deserves a long-term contract? Cousins has weathered this Flacco-esque debate since he replaced Robert Griffin III as the team’s starter, but he should find an answer this offseason. Washington would be insane to use the franchise tag a third time and pay roughly $35 million for one season of a player, unless that player grew 15 feet tall and could also fly. Assuming Cousins hits free agency, there will be a lot of teams looking for a starting QB. If Sunday was Cousins’s final game under Snyder’s rule, he closed it out with a real stinker.
At 7-8 going into the final game of the season, Washington was playing for dignity and draft position. The 2-13 Giants were the division’s punching bag, so that modest victory should have been achievable. Cousins said he wanted to finish 8-8 and “change the tenor of this season.” Alas, the tenor was not changed.
Cousins was 20-for-37 for 158 yards and three picks as the Skins lost to the worst team in the NFC, 18-10. His only highlight of the day was this touchdown run on an option.
That was a nice play on the ground, but Cousins was dreadful through the air. He hadn’t thrown three INTs in one game since October of 2014; in Sunday’s game he averaged 4.3 yards per attempt. Combined with the cold weather and the severely injury-depleted offensive line, the ordinarily energetic and upbeat Cousins looked frantic and harried all game. Washington’s guys off the street were no match for Giants pass rushers Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon, which meant that Cousins spent much of the game 1) backpedaling and 2) fucking up. Washington’s third offensive play of the game was a pass zipped to linebacker Kelvin Sheppard:
On his second pick, Cousins actually wasn’t on his heels. In this case, he just threw a pass that was underthrown not only for receiver Ryan Grant but Giants cornerback Ross Cockrell as well. Way to make him adjust, Kirk!
Cousins’s final interception of the day, with his team only down eight in the fourth quarter, was a real piece of shit straight to Sheppard for the second time:
Kirk Cousins’s market value won’t take a hit because of a useless Week 17 game, but all of his negative tendencies showed up at once. He forced throws, turned the ball over in places where even the Giants could capitalize, and pissed away a one-possession game with three minutes left. In a league full of bad quarterbacks, and at the end of a season full of bad quarterbacking, Cousins’s tribute to the art form was pitch-perfect.